Some pay-as-you-go TalkMobile customers could lose up to £50 credit when the service is transferred to Vodafone.
Vodafone took over TalkMobile in 2011 and is shutting down the firm's pay-as-you-go (PAYG) service from 31 August 2017. TalkMobile itself isn't closing down and nothing will change for contract customers.
PAYG TalkMobile customers have been given an extended notice period of up to 120 days and warned they won't be able to use the credit on their account after 31 August, but many say they will lose out.
How do I know if my credit will be transferred?
Vodafone has confirmed some customers could lose out if they don't use their credit before the changeover date.
- Balances under £20 – won't be transferred. Customers will instead be given a Big Value Bundle which includes 500MB of data, 150 minutes, 150 reward points and unlimited texts which lasts for 30 days, and usually costs £10.
- Balances over £20 – Vodafone says it will look at usage patterns and only transfer the credit if it thinks a customer is unlikely to use it before 31 August.
A Vodafone spokesperson said: "Most of the customers we have identified for transfer have credits over £50 but there are other criteria that we apply – not just the balance – for example, their usage pattern."
It will be done on a case-by-case basis so if you're concerned call 5888 from your TalkMobile handset.
If you do have credit transferred, Vodafone has confirmed you can opt to use it on normal PAYG rates. Mobile and landline calls cost 30p a minute, a standard text costs 14p, 50MB costs £2 and 1MB costs 10p.
'Any money should be transferred back if not used'
MoneySavingExpert.com has been contacted by some low usage users who are unhappy that they won't be refunded for unused credit.
Audrey Maggs, who has about £16 credit, said: "I don't use my mobile very often so I feel it's a matter of principle that any money should be transferred back if not used."
Forumite Mister K said: "I stand to lose credit that would potentially give me over 75 hours' call time with no credit expiry."
Dave Rhodes said: "TalkMobile PAYG will end 31 August – but they won't refund unused credit! My wife has £19.71 credit, but doesn't use it very often."
Heather Morris, who has credit of £18.63, said: "My husband and I both have basic phones on PAYG. We are pensioners and rarely use our phones. They are for emergency use only.
"We are being told we can opt for a Vodafone package when the TalkMobile service ends. This would not suit our needs."
Vodafone confirmed that these customers will lose their credit if not used, as up to £20 would be a "reasonable amount" to use in three months.
Can I switch away from TalkMobile and Vodafone?
TalkMobile PAYG customers are free to switch to another network but would need to use all of their remaining credit or top-up vouchers by 31 August to avoid losing out.
If you decide to switch and tell Vodafone you're leaving before 31 August you'll automatically be supplied with a PAC code so you can keep your number when you switch, which is valid for 30 days. You can call Vodafone free from your TalkMobile handset on 5888.
TalkMobile runs on the Vodafone network so if a Vodafone Sim is used, it will work. If you move to another network, call 5888 and staff will request the unlock code for you for free. See our Mobile Unlocking guide for more information.
Currently TalkMobile PAYG customers pay a 10p connection charge and the rest of the call is free for up to 60 minutes, then 8p/min after that. Voicemail costs 8p/min and standard texts cost 4p/min.
Our top-pick Sim for infrequent use is the 321 tariff from Three, which costs 3p/min, 2p/text and 1p/MB. See our Cheap Pay-as-you-go Sims guide for more information and options.
Is it worth staying for the Vodafone Big Value bundle?
The Big Value Bundle usually costs £10/mth and includes 500MB of 4G data, 150 minutes and unlimited texts. You must cancel otherwise it will auto-renew each month. The first free one that some customers will receive auto-renews if you have available credit at the time of renewal.
By comparison, our top-pick cheapest Sim costs £10/mth and includes 5GB of data, 2,000 minutes and 5,000 texts on a rolling 30-day contract.
What does the regulator say?
An Ofcom spokesperson said: "We want consumers to be treated fairly. We expect providers' contract terms and practices to be clear and strike a fair balance – to ensure credits are not lost too early and that customers get fair warning about the need to use their phones before any credit is lost."
They added: "Customers that don't wish to transfer to Vodafone and instead move to an alternative provider have the opportunity to run down their credit and then switch away. Customers with credit balances at that point are unlikely to receive a refund."
They added that if customers are unhappy they should initially complain to Vodafone.
The free Resolver complaints tool can help (see our Resolver guide for more information) and escalate your complaint to Ombudsman Services if you're unhappy with the response. Alternatively you can contact the Ombudsman directly.